Friday’s Hedge Hog*

I lost count of how many times I opened the “Add New Post” box this week, only to leave the text windows blankly staring at me, begging me to write something that wasn’t in my mind. I’m going through a transition in my life and, sadly, I’m under a fair amount of self-induced stress. Some of my stress is not self-induced, but I have little capacity to cope with stress whether it comes as a natural causal effect of living, or as a means of self-regulation. I impose so many rules on myself that it’s no wonder I lean toward an anarchist political philosophy and always have. Really, how is it feasible to follow my own rules to the nth degree while also following the petty ones the state or self-proclaimed do-gooders yoke me to?

Some of my rules are arbitrary and involve useless counting. Do I, for example, count steps every time I turn in the drive? No, but I did when I was younger. I’ve given up some of my most ridiculous self-imposed rules (please don’t ask my children if I still fall apart over not being able to count the ounces in my beverage glass!). My point is this–my rules are both logical and illogical at once. They keep me productive when I replace counting steps with counting written words or, these days, math problems, but having to follow them drives me insane (and so does a lack of productivity!).

When it came to filling in the blank text windows this week, I opted for sanity. I had a series of banging headaches that forced me to follow a rule plan I call the bare minimum. This bare minimum nonsense allows me to trick myself into accomplishing as much as I would normally. If my brain is a computer, then this a crazy sort of trickster algorithm and, this week, I was not able or willing to follow the results it spit out for me. Aside from banging headaches, I’ve recently suffered from other signs of ill health I’d prefer not to discuss. Nevertheless, my undisclosed health issues forced me into a lowest-level daily rule-following plan that looked about like this: care for children and their schoolwork; complete one self-study math tutorial; take a walk with the pup. I also managed some laundry and cleaned the toilets. As far as I’m concerned, the latter accomplishments should earn me a medal. But, alas, medals aren’t doled out over my concerns, or my accomplishments or lack thereof, despite the Nobel Peace Prize and its insistence on rewarding others in hopes they will stick to a specified/engineered program. I’m sorry, but I believe I’ve done far more at balancing my own personal economy and running my household than has a collective group of countries. And what is it with the collective mindset, anyway? Why do groups of scientists now win honors together as teams, when it’s the infighting of scientists that has, throughout history, caused certain disgruntled men to disappear into their basements until they’ve invented genius concepts all by themselves? The collective–the team–should work for the individual, and not the other way around. People should not merely “get along” for the sake of the collective. They should get along because it’s in their best interest to do so (or not, if they happen to be disgruntled geniuses in need of some self-righteous indignation to put a skip back in their steps).

Moving on past that rant about the team-player society we are forced to live in due to the socialization dictocrats–deep breath–I decided to attend a faith and science meeting last night, despite wanting to chop off my head. My mom has invited me to attend a series of lectures with her on the convergence of science and faith from the perspective of scientists. Living in a science town, I’ve run across the hostility that scientists have for faith of any kind. In my experiences, religious people cede authority to scientists far more than scientists will cede anything to religious folk. The religious are left with a reactionary stance, demanding, ridiculously, to force the public education system to teach creationism so that their children won’t be consumed by the complete antagonism of the science community. Of course, creationism is ludicrous when taught as science, per se, but I could see it taught in a where science meets philosophy class, in which students learn to philosophize unknowns based off known scientific principles.

And how did I meander down yet another rabbit trail? I took a left at Albuquerque! What I meant to discuss–the crux of everything–had to do with this science-meets-faith lecture, given by a young Chinese researcher of cosmic magnetism, who converted to Christianity while attending college in the states. She talked about her magnetic research a little, and then gave her testimony. Throughout the testimony section, the astronomy professor sitting in front of me grew more and more visibly uncomfortable, even shaking his head in disgust at certain points.

I tried to ignore the professor because I was fascinated with the researcher on a level that had little to do with her faith or education. Her personality–her responses to life–are so similar to my own. This strange convergence of personality obviously crosses cultural boundaries. Throughout her talk, it became evident that she has many rules she places on herself. She can’t cope with stress. She gets caught up in the details and often must pull herself back so that she can grapple with the big picture again. She suffers from anxiety, but has a bizarre sense of humor, perhaps to create balance. If she doesn’t win topnotch honors, she feels that her efforts have been completely wasted. And she thinks all those other people out there in the world are a lot smarter than she is. Yes, that’s right. A harsh lesson that–a woman with a PhD from Harvard who has recently earned a coveted research fellowship actually believes “all those others” out there are a lot smarter than she is.

Sigh. I know what it is to be a smart person trapped inside a stupid one or, conversely, a stupid person trapped inside a smart one. I have a lot of lessons to learn about life, about survival, about stress, and about the ego messages that taunt particular people even after they have “arrived”. I’ll never arrive. Period. Nobody other does, until they arrive at death’s door.

Thanks for listening (figuratively speaking).

*I was going to go with hodge podge, but thought hedge hog sounded better, even if this has nothing to do with hedge hogs. Also, I was probably influenced on a subconscious level by Katherine Coble’s Fridays With Magpies.

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